Britain’s longest reigning monarch to date has been Queen Victoria, who was queen for over 63 years (although as she became queen at 18 she had a good start). Until now she was the only monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee which she did in 1897. This was at the height of empire, and Britain was at the height of her powers as a result, so the celebrations were lavish.
Here in Whitburn the event was marked by installation of a drinking fountain in the village green, though in the decades that have followed it has suffered some wear and tear; the ornate bronze workings that topped the structure have long gone, and there is no longer a water supply.
Today marked the completion of the first phase of restoration of the fountain, funded by a collection amongst the village residents, and initiated by two leading lights of the village; John Shield, one of the churchwardens and his able assistant Ken Smith, the Rector. The project was launched to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, and with this being the weekend of many of the official celebrations it seemed fitting to aim to complete the work in time for an official unveiling today
The first phase has seen a new inscription on the west side of the fountain, and a general clean up of the structure. With a little research in Durham Records Office, it is hoped to be able to replicate the original metal work on top, and fit two ornamental covers over the concrete that was used to fill the holes left by the original spouts.
To mark the occasion in true celebratory style John suggested that residents along the main street in the village might wish to congregate for a picnic, and so one of those rare expressions of quintessential Englishness ensured. Flags and bunting were strewn liberally, red white and blue clothing was virtually compulsory, and picnic blankets and tables disappeared under sandwiches, cakes, and bottles of fizz.
Some 200 people were expected, but it felt like many more made an appearance, probably passers-by drawn by curiosity at the throng enjoying the sunshine on the green. John and his band set up outside his farmhouse to provide entertainment,
the kids enjoyed a bouncy castle,
We have only lived here for 9 years, but it was clear that there is still a community at the heart of the village who know each other well and it felt great to be a part of it. We just need an excuse to do this on a more regular basis!
There were many people who could have featured on my blog today, but there was a woman near us who stood out as an obvious choice with her Pre-Raphaelite hair. Actress, model and musician, Alicia was an English rose on this most patriotic of days.
- Jubilation! London set for river spectacular (thesun.co.uk)